How To Use A Rug To Up Your Design Game: 6 Rooms, 6 Rugs

Picking out a rug in my opinion is a lot like deciding on a drink at Starbucks. Too. many. options. Fortunately, I don't drink much coffee!

For those of you diving into the indecisive world of picking the perfect rug for your space, you may find it difficult to avoid the overwhelm that comes along with it. You're wondering: 

What size?

What pattern?

Bold, bright or neutral?

Do I need a rug pad? 

The list goes on and on.

In the end, there are no hard and fast rules, but there are some definite rules of thumb that are generally accepted by most. Here are a few of my picks for 6 different rooms:


The Living Room Rug


photo: Sarah Sherman Samuel 


Your living room is most likely a place for entertaining, lazing around, and Netflix-ing. It's often a high traffic area, and one of the best places to make a statement.

Rule of Thumb:  A rug's purpose is meant to anchor the seating area, so the front legs of your furniture, if not the entire seating area, should be on top of the rug.  

Color & Pattern:  If your room is fairly neutral or simple, don't be afraid to go for a bright color or interesting pattern. It could end up being the highlight of the room! If you already have a lot going on in your room, stick to a solid color with a fun texture, or a subtle pattern.

Texture:  A shag or texture-y rug could also be really fun here, but keep in mind that it will be much harder to clean and kids or elderly people with mobility problems might have issues with tripping. Try using contrasting textures, like a stiffer sisal or jute rug with a softer cotton or wool rug layered on top for some variation.

My Picks: 


               Caitlin Wilson Soleil Rug in Navy                                      Arro Home Asha Rug



The Dining Room Rug


photo: Amber Interiors 


The never ending battle......chairs on or off the rug?? 

General Consensus:  In most cases, you want to keep your chairs ON the rug. Also be sure that your rug extends at least 18" past the edge of the table on either side to accommodate for when the chairs are pulled out. This will also help to reduce floor scratching.

Rule of Thumb:  Pick a low pile rug for easy cleaning, and something dark or with a busy pattern for when your kid (or tipsy friend) inevitably knocks your glass of red wine onto the floor.

What to Avoid:  Anything antique or expensive! Expect this rug to be most likely to be destroyed.  

Other Options:  Try using floor tiles which can be easily replaced when big spills happen.

My Picks:


             West Elm Andalusia Wool Dhurrie Rug                           Joss & Main Ellis Stair Tread



The Bedroom Rug


photo: Loom & Kiln 


Easy Option 1:  Place a runner alongside your bed to save your toes from the hardwood (or tile, eek!) in the morning.

photo: Barnaby Lane 


Easy Option 2:  Get a larger (usually 8x10 or larger) size rug and if your bed is up against the wall, place it 1/2 to 2/3 under your bed horizontally.

 photo: Amber Interiors


Easy Option 3:  Get a giant rug and cover underneath your entire bed and around the sides.  Just to cover all the bases..

Layering:  You could also mix option 1 and 3 by buying a large sisal or jute rug to cover most of the floor, then layer a colorful runner on top.

My Picks:


         Canary Lane Karakum Tribal Runner                            Crate & Barrel Sisal Rug



The Kids Rug



photo: Baba Souk


Your kids are on the floor a lot, which means you'll be on the floor a lot too. So first off make sure it's soft and comfortable. Also maybe shoot for something low-pile so you can see the legos before they tear up your feet later on.

Color & Pattern:  Have fun with color and pattern here.  A busy design will also help with the inevitable spills and messes that come with having kids.

Size:  The bigger the better! Rugs are meant to be cozy and kids love cozy rooms. (More room for somersaults and dance parties at minimum)

My Picks: 


         Baba Souk Recycled Textile Rug                                    Land of Nod Half Dot Rug



The Hallway Runner


photo:  Samantha Goh/Homepolish


Hallways are another extremely high traffic area, but often overlooked when it comes to design.  A simple runner can make a transitional space way more interesting.

Rule of Thumb:  Choose something easy to clean and durable like a wool rug.  You also want to pick something low pile to avoid tripping hazards. A patterned rug will more easily hide wear and dirt.

What To Avoid:  Sisal, jute, and silk rugs won't hold up to heavy traffic on their own, and shag style rugs will wear flat very quickly.

My Picks:


               Loom & Kiln Persian Rug                                Wayfair Pascoe Blue Rug by Mistana



The Kitchen Runner


photo: Julia Steele

Wait, what?'s a thing.  A colorful rug in the kitchen can be a surprising and unexpected way to add some color to your home.

How To Do It:  If you have an island or a galley style kitchen, place a runner (don't skip the rug pad on this one!!) with a few inches to spare between the cabinets or island. Pick something very low-pile (ie not shaggy or furry) for easy cleaning.

What To Avoid:  Multiple smaller rugs that can easily get kicked up and become a tripping hazard. Stick to one long, low pile runner.

My Picks:


 Crate & Barrel Dove Wool Dhurrie Runner                                 Wayfair Loughlam Runner


And last but not least, YES!! need a rug pad.  

I know, I know, it's so tempting to skip it because no one sees it anyways and it usually tacks on an extra $100+ to your price tag, but in the name of not falling on your face or ruining your floors, just go with it.

Fun Fact:  Your rug doesn't wear from the top down, it wears out from the bottom up when the floor is rubbing against the base of the rug.  This can lead to scratching, color staining, and a rug that doesn't last very long.  Adding a rug pad will add extra cushion, protect your floors, and increase the overall life of your rug, so it's worth the splurge!


What's the first thing that you look for in a rug? Let me know in the comments below.